We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Win Big When You Book on TripAdvisor

State Historical Museum

Certificate of Excellence
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Get directions
Address: 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone Number: +1 515-281-5111

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 121 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 70
  • 30
    Very good
  • 14
  • 2
  • 4
The place to go near the state capitol.

This museum is in the shadows of the Iowa state capitol building. If you visit there you must walk the short distance to this museum. The first thing you will see is the skeleton... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 1 week ago
dennis k
Waterloo, Iowa
Add Photo Write a Review

121 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Showing 120: English reviews
Waterloo, Iowa
Level Contributor
77 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

This museum is in the shadows of the Iowa state capitol building. If you visit there you must walk the short distance to this museum. The first thing you will see is the skeleton of a wooly mammoth, who says Iowa only has pigs and cows? Many fine displays are here but the favorite of most will be Iowa on... More 

1 Thank dennis k
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Our Iowa Family LOVED this stop! Kudos Jess Rundlett for meeting us & her fantastic recommendations!

Thank Stephanie S
Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 October 2016

The State Historical Museum on the East Side of the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines is easily accessible and fun to visit. The exhibits are changed on a regular basis and the whole family enjoys going to see what has changed every few weeks. There are performances by people from the community who portray historical figures and explain... More 

Thank Trvl4vr
Flint, Michigan
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 October 2016

This was the last museum we visited on our return home after a 9-day bus trip to Mt. Rushmore. I would have thought everyone would have been tired of museums by this time, but we ALL so enjoyed visiting this museum. I was most impressed with the Mammoths display.....it was awesome! The Civil War exhibit was most impressive. Everyone said... More 

Thank DianeDemersCASC
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level Contributor
727 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 October 2016 via mobile

Well laid out and engaging collection covering many aspects of state history. Personally enjoyed section on films made in Iowa. 4 star museum, but extra star for the great building and for the museum charging nothing.

Thank BatGuano30
Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 September 2016

This modern building is not that old, but a proposal to tear much of it down due to water leaks has been made. It has too much wasted space and never was suitable as a museum. Many of the items that should be displayed are not due to all the wasted space. A waste of taxpayers money.

Thank Fred-Marlene S
Level Contributor
46 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 September 2016 via mobile

This is an amazing Museum. FREE admission! A neat variety of exhibits. Probably the best display of civil war memorabilia we've ever seen.

Thank GMRPennsylvania
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 August 2016

We didn't get to enjoy the exhibits because we were busy, however, we were able to enjoy the location because it was the site of a wedding reception. The cafe terrace has such a beautiful view of the State Capitol building - we too so many family photos there on a bright sunny afternoon. The guests were able to enjoy... More 

1 Thank cupfar b
Smyrna, Tennessee
Level Contributor
61 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2016

Spent several hours here learning all about Iowa. All the exhibits were very good examining Iowa over the centuries. The exhibit on film in Iowa was especially good showcasing the many films that were filmed in Iowa many of which are classics such as "State Fair" and "Field of Dreams". The "First in the Nation" exhibit was also very educational... More 

1 Thank lost_in_itasca
Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 August 2016

First, I admit that I love museums and find them fascinating. But this place exceeded expectations by far! It is engaging, interactive, emotionally moving, and informative. I learned a great deal about the history and people of our adopted home state, and was really fascinated by what I learned. I particularly loved the exhibit about Iowa and the movies (who... More 

1 Thank IA M

Travellers who viewed State Historical Museum also viewed


Been to State Historical Museum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing

Questions & Answers

Questions? Get answers from State Historical Museum staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?